13 September 2021

Exploiting Emma Raducanu’s victory to peddle a leftist agenda is a double fault for democracy

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While most of us are still absorbing the spectacular nature of Emma Raducanu’s US Open victory, it didn’t take long for the usual suspects to exploit her achievement to peddle their simple-minded identity politics and open-borders metropolitanism.

Author Sathnam Sanghera used her victory to tell us that ‘immigration enriches us’, explicitly mentioning her Chinese and Romanian heritage. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, happy to take up any opportunity to indulge in identitarian leftism, responded to Bromley-raised Raducanu’s win by saying: ‘Here in London, we embrace and celebrate our diversity’. If Khan wants to take advantage of Emma Raducanu’s success in the name of diversity politics, the least he could do is be respectful enough to spell her surname correctly. As for Good Morning Britain presenter Adil Ray, even the fairest of neutral observers would say he had quite the Twitter meltdown as he was challenged over his mindless identity-politicking.

One of the big problems with using a particular case of ethnic minority success to deliver a fervently pro-immigration message, is that it leaves the door open for opportunistic bigots to exploit ethnic minority failure to do the same thing from an anti-immigration perspective. The same goes for using a specific case of ethnic-minority achievement to champion diversity in London – which can invite others to cite cases of violent religious extremism and gang-related knife crime in the capital as part of an aggressively anti-diversity message. It is a fine demonstration of how a combination of ultra-liberal narratives surrounding immigration and leftist identity politics can embolden hard-right ideologues.

Another issue which has emerged from all of this is the unwillingness to frame ethnic minority achievements as British success, thereby demonstrating the reality that much of Britain’s liberal-left is unable to foster an inclusive multi-ethnic patriotism. Unsurprisingly, ‘progressive’ identitarians – who look to put down Britain at any given opportunity – are more than happy to overlook the UK-based sporting infrastructure that has played a part in Raducanu becoming a Grand Slam winner – along with the fact that she has a British coach in the form of Andrew Richardson.

There was a time that the British left could have told an uplifting story of how stable family units, experienced figures, and robust civic institutions – such as Bromley Tennis Centre – can all play an integral part in the personal development of young British people. That family-orientated and community-spirited traditionalism, which could garner support across a range of social groups, is dying on the left, with tribal identity politics very much in the ascendancy. Our national social discourse is all the poorer for it.

But there’s a more a sinister, exclusionary element to this thinking too. Self-appointed moral guardians want to wish to tell people who have the ‘wrong’ views on Brexit or immigration that they’re not allowed to take pleasure in British victories. One of the worst instances of this was from London-based writer and producer Dominic Minghella, who essentially advanced the view that people were forbidden from celebrating Raducanu’s win if they were against illegal Channel crossings into the UK. A scorching-hot take, if nothing else.

Emma Raducanu’s victory – a credit to herself, her family, her coach, and community institutions that helped with her individual progress – unmasked the divisive tendencies of the supposedly tolerant. It tells a story of a contemporary British left which talks very little about aspiration, dedicated work ethic, and competitive spirit, yet remains hyper-obsessed with racial identity and ethnic origin. It ultimately serves to undermine national solidarity, and that’s a double fault for British democracy.

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Dr Rakib Ehsan is a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society.

Columns are the author's own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of CapX